Unproven entrepreneur promises 1,100 local jobs

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A West Hollywood man with a short entrepreneurial resume came to Indiana with a big idea to build hundreds of trucks outfitted with giant video screens.

The product is unproven, and so is Bob Yanagihara, the ambitious 50-year-old who dreamed it up.

But Yanagihara said the key word when he met with state and city economic development officials: jobs.

He's scheduled to stand alongside Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard Wednesday afternoon to announce his plans to build a $21 million manufacturing plant on the northwest side and create more than 1,000 jobs.

Litebox_plane_15colYanagihara said that his previous business experience includes selling medical devices and floor tile.

His company, Litebox Inc., stands to collect training grants and property-tax abatement worth a total of $11 million if it creates the promised jobs, local economic development officials said. The deal doesn't pose much risk to local governments since the company won't receive tax breaks or grants unless it lives up to its promises.

Yanagihara had pegged the incentive deal's value at $40 million in an interview with IBJ Tuesday evening, but on Wednesday said he had Indiana's offer confused with one from another state.

He said his new company—which employs 69 people in California and Minnesota—will ultimately create more than 10,000 jobs, including positions in every state. Most of the jobs would be at production facilities in Indiana, California and New York, he said.

Yanagihara also said he has lined up more than $200 million from private investors to fund the start-up, but he declined to name any of them.

The deal originated with Develop Indy, the city's economic development arm, and is based on the creation of 1,100 new jobs, said Melissa Todd, the group's vice president of operations.

"It's an ambitious plan. We all recognize that," Todd said. "We have to trust the information we're being given, as we do with all clients."

She said the offer of performance-based incentives followed "weeks of due dilligence," including a review of financial projections and some evidence the company has investors.

Yanagihara told IBJ his company expects to create 1,200 to 1,400 jobs locally, paying salaries between $30,000 and $150,000.

He said the new factory near 86th Street and Georgetown Road would churn out eight mobile entertainment trucks per month, with 300 people working on them at a time in three shifts. More than 300 additional employees would work at a "media production office" at 146 E. Washington St., a building Yanagihara said he plans to renovate. Litebox has not yet hired a contractor to build its factory, Todd said. It plans to own, not lease, the space.

The company has not yet built any of the mobile entertainment semitrailers, which will feature 47-foot-tall, high-definition screens. The finished products would sell for about $3 million apiece and feature Panasonic LED screens and Bose sound equipment. Programming would be beamed to the devices by satellite.

"There's demand for these all over the world," Yanagihara said.

Yanagihara said his prior business experience includes selling medical devices and floor tile. (He owns a tile shop called Creative Environments in Los Angeles). His most recent entrepreneurial effort was a website called promotemysong.com that is no longer online. (He said his team is revamping the site's design for a relaunch).

He's the only contact listed on Litebox's bare-bones website, but he said a new version of the site will go live after the announcement.

Indiana Economic Development Corp. spokeswoman Katelyn Hancock declined to comment on the planned announcement. She also declined to characterize the vetting process that led to a deal with Litebox or confirm details of the deal.


  • He's not the first
    People already build these units for the special event market. There is not enough demand worldwide for the quantities he quotes (and his price per unit is laughable), and even if there were, the number of people it would take to do this is far less than 1,100. Search for Trailerex, Daktronics, and Barco on the web to see what is being built and then refer this guy to rehab.
  • Why break ground?
    Ah if you only knew the inside info on this "project". It is comical.
  • litebox
    Shrenker like to pose by investor funded aircraft also. Suckers.
  • Super Bowl?
    Could it be he's just a con man looking to get his hands on some tickets andVIP treatment during the event?
  • Net zero?
    Well Sherlock, I don't know the details of the incentive packages, but the taxpayers do pay the salary of the Develop Indy staff.
  • Net zero if this is BS
    After all this hype, let's remember everything is performance based; no public money has been put out.

    Follow his RE purchases, which I believe he has purchased one already. If it's BS then we lost nothing; just a PR/career disaster by this Develop Indy guy who brought this "entrepreneur" to Indy.
  • how much does a 47' screen weigh?
    Can you imagine trying to stabilize something that tall and wide from a mobile platform?
    Imagine the wind loading forces. Remember what happened at the fair grounds just a few weeks ago? That was just fabric with most of it on a horizontal plane.
  • How do you spell SCAM?
  • In reply to Christine
    Because it's easier to fake building a new structure than to fake obtaining an existing one, in my opinion. When I saw that detail that was the first thing I thought of, though. Stop the sprawl!
  • Remember Don Lapre?
    He was a guy who advertised his get rich quick scheme on TV all the time. He posed in front of fancy homes, cars and airplanes. People inferred from that he was super wealthy. He was not and had been charged with $52M in fraud earlier this year. Then he committed suicide a couple weeks ago.
  • Trust??
    WHY do we simply have to trust their information?
  • Who Vetted this out for the City and Govenor?
    Corey this guy is violating US Registered Trademark laws...
    Also so how is Litebox going to get around the Registered Trademark issue with this company http://www.streamlight.com/product/class.aspx?cid=6. I did a simple google search they have flashlights which run under the Label Litebox and have the Registered Trademark symbol next to their name.

    I want Gov Mitch and Mayor Ballard to tell us WHO in their staff VETTED this man and his company Litebox when a simple google search yields a company that will be embarking on a Trademark issue?
  • A Joke?
    Is this some kind of joke? Even the rendering for the product looks like it was produced by a high school student.
  • 1100 JOBS HUH!
    I think Honda just added 1000 jobs for a seconds shift and they build complex autos. So this is more jobs and a new idea. Oh by the way next week we vote keep or turn out Mayor Ballard.
  • Ballard is a moron
    Next week Ballard will announce new jobs coming from a Nigerian Prince who emailed him promising to build a factory if we send him a check for 50 million dollars
  • Seriously?
    What company that currently has 57 employees in multiple states has a skeleton website? Ambition and dreams are great but this is not a new concept. Only time will tell what he is able to accomplish but these claims seem quite outlandish at best. Hopefully the press will follow the progress of the company.
  • This is embarrassing
    So I did some quick research and found out that the number listed for LiTEBOX is the CEO's cell phone. Not only that, but the guy posted the number in a forum while plugging a company called Carbonic Heat. I was half tempted to post the link, but don't think his personal info should be spread anymore, even if he seems to be really into self-promotion right now. This hard to believe scenario is reminiscent of that weird deal in Greenwood a few years ago where some 20 year old kid from California managed to persuade the town into all kinds of handouts before they realized it was too good to be true. I think it was called Tail Gate Beer and he was going to bring all kinds of distribution jobs.

    I find this whole thing embarrassing to the city and state. How about focusing on stemming job loss, promoting local economies and resisting gimmicks.
  • Great Idea
    Sounds like something I would invest in
  • Wow!
    Shipping is already expensive, semi's already bang themselves into shipping docs, drivers have enough time paying attention, this is flat out weird.
  • Really?
    So many promises, so little facts. Sounds fishy given the election is so close.
  • And why I am watching?
    Is this for when nobody can afford a television in their home anymore? Where's the market beyond a few special events like a huge concert on the Circle where they want to have a video screen for those people who are 1,000 feet away? And how often does that happen? Despite what Costanza said, I'm not going to watch it just because it's on.
  • How many jobs?
    On Fox59 this morning, they reported the 1,200 job number for Indianapolis and said the company also expected to have 30,000 jobs worldwide within a year. I appreciate the skepticism that seems inherent in this article, but what do we have to do to get a whole handful of decent reporters in this town?
  • Really??
    Who/where does it say it's his plane in the picture? Looks like he posed inside an FBO hangar at some airport . . . .
  • Huh????
    What in the world are these trucks to be used for - and they don't want us to text ont he roads??? This sounds REAALLLYYY dumb - or will it replace the Drive In Theaters that are left out there?
  • Homework


  • Ditto
    Maybe West Hollywood businessmen do. LOL
  • Cart Before the Video Truck
    Appears that he is using Indiana's acceptance of his 'concept' as the legitimacy he needs to get investment capital. Then if he gets that round done, he may or may not build here. Who knows?
  • Pot of gold
    Hopefully this guys business works well & takes off, but after hearing an interview with him, it does seem a bit iffy.
  • lots of small gains are better
    Better to have 50 companies hire 20 people than to put all eggs in one basket. My new lighting controls business will bring 10-20 new jobs here and more if it takes off as expected. Don't see me saying "1100 Jobs!" Just takes time and Indiana is doing better than most states because we aren't boom-crazy-bust like a lot of over-hyped states.
  • We Won't Get Fooled Again
    Where is the prototype? Why decline to announce investors? Not that there is anything wrong with floor tile sales but why would he cite that as a resume item. C'mon Indiana officials. Shades of Tim Durham ...
  • Looks familiar
    The article has a picture of the smiling man next to his airplane. Only thing missing is the trophy wife and sports car, ala Marcus Schrenker.
  • C'mon man
    Finally Indy has something as phony as Carbon Motors.
  • Sound Just Like Carbon Motors
    Anybody remember them. They made the grand annnouncement of how many jobs they were bringing to Indiana, building high tech police sedans in 2009. Does Mitch and/or IBJ subtract these no-show jobs after they make the big splash to announce them and make us believe Mitch is bringing so many jobs to Indiana, or is he counting on our amnesia????
  • 1000 Jobs!!!!!
    This is gonna be fun to watch
  • Music Man
    Haha...nice to see River City welcome the Music Man.
  • In other Mitch jobs news...
    NASDAQ set to delist EnerDel parent
    Ener1 Inc., the struggling parent of Indianapolis-based advanced-battery maker EnerDel, is being booted from the NASDAQ stock exchange, according to a public filing by the company.
  • Sigh.
    We all recognize that this is one of the most ridiculous stories we've been asked to believe, right?
  • This product is tested
    Screenworks Entertainment currently has this kind of truck. This isn't some new fangled idea.
  • guess he didnt expect traffic at the website
    liteboxinc.com/ = Bandwidth Limit Exceeded.
    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later. ....looks like they didnt plan for people to be interested in the announcement. protip: if ya wanna have people go to your site after a major announcement, talk to your web guy.
  • Beware
    Buyer Beware,,, There are a few Snake Oil Salesmen left in the world,, 3 Mil for a TV???
  • Great News?
    Cant wait to hear what Mayor Ballard and Governor Daniels say at this media event.

    Maybe they can explain what they are actually offering this company in government incentives since the owner appears confused.
  • Why break ground?
    I'm glad that more jobs are coming to Indianapolis. What I'm not happy about is the fact that so many large warehouse spaces are sitting empty in the many industrial parks of Indianapolis and Plainfield and this company has to build yet another one. Why can't they just use a building that already exists?

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    thisissue1-092914.jpg 092914

    Subscribe to IBJ